Disclaimers: there may be some bad language, I dont remember really. Its nothing really terrible, that much I do remember <g> This is an orginal story based on two wildly famous characters that I of course do not own.
Authors note: In the words of Bob Barker, please have your pet spade or neutered. Also, if you are looking for a pet, consider adoption or rescuing. Too many dogs are put to sleep every year, and a growing number are being sold for fights or experimentation.
Dedication: This story is dedicated to those that tell me how bad, good or indifferent my stories are when I ask them. And, to a certain skunk (Todd) that dared me to write him into something.
This story is written in memory of a very special Basset Hound. Ariel, you truly were a once in a lifetime dog. I still miss you my friend.
Blue Dragon (the bayoupup)
Bayoupup27@yahoo.com (really, I do read my email <g>)
Several years ago, I lost someone I was really close to. I lost my best friend and companion. She was always there for me, whenever I needed someone to talk to. Wed lie for hours out in the backyard just watching the stars and talking. She would lay her head on my shoulder, and all would be right with the world. She never judged me, no matter what I told her. And I told her everything. Every imagined dark secret, every sin I may have committed, such as forging my fathers signature on a report card in sixth grade, and all my crushes, despairs, joys and fears.
Her name was Ariel. She had beautiful red hair and deep soulful brown eyes. In case you have not guessed by now, she was a basset hound. I know it sounds weird to be talking about a dog that way, but Ariel was a very special dog. She loved my entire family but held a special place in her heart just for me. Growing up in the midst of six children, being special to something or someone was rare. It was probably the thing I loved most about her. Even basking in the attentions of the rest of my family, as soon as I showed up, Ariel was all mine.
Ariel was the type of dog you run across once in a lifetime. She was brave for a basset. She saved my mothers life once. Now, dont roll your eyes. She really did. Dont believe me? All right then, I will give you proof.
One day my mother was leaving the house to go to work. Ariel met her at the back door and tried to get her attention. My mom thought the dog was just looking for attention or food, so she yelled back into the house for one of us to feed her. Then, mom continued on her way to the car. Ariel went crazy. So did our German Sheppard, but she couldnt climb the fence to reach the trouble. Being the only dog allowed outside the fence (I mean how far would a basset hound wander?) Ariel was the only thing in moms way.
Mom kept going around the dog, which wasnt all that hard. Ariel only weighed maybe 45 pounds and was maybe 2 and a half feet tall. However, my determined dog grabbed my moms pants legs by her teeth and held on. Shocked, mom thought that the dog had gone crazy. She yelled for me to come get Ariel. Then she yelled for us to stay inside. Never tell three teenagers that. Naturally, we all ended up outside to see what the problem was.
The problem was a 5-foot long alligator that was laying under the sprinkler in our front yard. We lived on the bayou, yes South Mississippi has bayous, honestly, and it had apparently been searching for more water. We were in the middle of a drought so massive we were only allowed to use the sprinklers for an hour every other day.
Anyway, my mother noticed this alligator was laying nor less that five feet from her. She had managed to drag Ariel from the carport to the driveway. Ariel, who was about ten years old at this time and half deaf, decided to protect her family. No, the story ends better than you think. Mom ended up on top of her minivan screaming for help. I ran out, grabbed the dog and kept yelling for my little brother Oliver to call 911. I still dont know why, all I knew was that they had brainwashed us as children to call 911 in an emergency. I thought, and still do, that having a 5-foot long alligator in your front yard qualified as an emergency.
Not that I had anything against alligators. I grew up around them. We could see them sunning themselves in the marshes as we past by in the boat. Several times they would follow the boats in search of food. Boats meant fishing, which meant bait. I was even chased by one when I was twelve. Let me tell you how fast I ran then. I could have broken Carl Lewiss track record that day.
Anyway, our neighbor across the street was a sheriffs deputy. He was also a sportsman. He heard the screams and came over. Using a large steak, his apparent dinner for that evening, he managed to get the alligators attention away from my mom long enough for her to get off the van and back inside the house. Not long after, a park ranger showed up with an alligator catcher. I didnt know they existed, but this guy was able to subdue the gator and take him away. I learned later that they let the poor creature back into the wild far away from any subdivision.
Mom ended up replacing our neighbors meal. The next day, she bought him two giant t-bone steaks. She also bought and cooked one for Ariel too. If it hadnt been for Ariel, mom never would have seen the alligator. Mom being the type of person she was, she would probably have had a heart attack if the alligator had tried to attack. So, there you have it. Ariel saved my moms life. Like I said, Ariel was the type of dog you encounter once in a lifetime.
Now I guess you are wondering why Im writing about all of this. Well, driving home one evening years later, I passed Jones Park. Jones Park was about seven blocks from my house, and I would often take Samson, my red golden retriever there for a walk. That night however, I saw a dog that looked just like my lost one. Had Ariel had puppies, she was sterile, this dog could have been one of them.
It was strange to see a lone basset, so I stopped the car and went to investigate. I called the dog to me so she wouldnt wander into traffic and began looking for her owner. No one was within the parks vicinity. So, I loaded the dog into my car and took her home.
After introducing her to Samson, I examined the shorter dogs collar. Her name made me laugh. Someone had actually named a basset hound Peanut. Her identification tag also gave a phone number and I was glad to see that the rabies vaccination tag was hanging right behind it.
Dutifully, I called the phone number listed and did not receive an answer. An answering machine did not pick up, so I decided to call the people in the morning. It did strike me as odd that whoever had lost Peanut was not home. Course it was Saturday night, and for all I knew, they could have been out searching for her at the time.
After feeding the dogs, I booted up my computer and answered a few queries from my website before calling it a night and going to bed. Peanut did something then that Ariel had never done, she slept on the bed. Ariel was an outside dog; she hated being in the house (much like the six of us kids) and pouted whenever she had to stay inside. Peanut was obviously a pampered inside dog.
I was a little concerned about how the food I gave her would affect her. I had always been told not to change a dogs diet abruptly, but I did feed Samson the worlds most popular dog food. Fortunately Peanut did not show any strange after effects from her meal.
Samson slept at my feet and Peanut at my side. It was nice. All I needed at that time was the girlfriend to go along with the domestic moment. Instead, I resolved to get another dog as soon as I reunited Peanut and her owners. After all, Samson did need a friend.
That morning both dogs needed to go outside before seven am. Its the price of having a dog; you can never really sleep in. After letting them outside and feeding them breakfast I logged on and checked for more questions from my website.
Out of the four queries I had in my inbox, I could only answer two of them. One was for a site that had naked celebrities, and resisting the urge to tell the client that the easiest way to see Britney Spears naked was to catch her at her home in Kentwood Louisiana, I merely wrote back that supplying pornography was not a service this site provided. Two were fairly standard and easy to answer. The last one was from one of my regular clients. He worked for the State department and wanted to find red heels in a mens twelve, a pink tutu and the codes for a Gameboy game. That proved a little harder but I was able to do it.
That done, I called the dogs back and we all went back to sleep. One of the benefits of working online was that my hours were what I wanted them to be. The other benefit, and the one I appreciated the most, was that I could work in my pajamas.
We all got back up about 10 oclock that morning. I called the phone number again; rationalizing that someone would be home on a Sunday morning. Providing of course that they were not at church. It took about three rings, but fortunately someone answered this time.
I introduced myself as Stel McCormick when the young sounding voice answered the phone. I told the girl, I later found out she was a lot older than I had pegged her for, that I had found a basset hound the prior evening. I barely had time to get the words out before I heard a very relieved sigh and an enthusiastic thank god.
She said she did not live far from Jones Park and asked if meeting there would be good for me. I said it was not a problem, and I could be there in an hour. I took a quick shower, changed into something comfortable and began looking for Samsons old leash. I found the small chain leash, he had outgrown it at 5 months but I had kept it anyway, and attached it to Peanuts collar.
The three of us walked at a slow pace towards the park. I decided to take Samson along so that Peanuts owner would not worry about her dog staying over night with a maniac. The park was a small one, barely a city block in size, so I found a bench to wait on. As I was just finishing my cigarette, Peanut started barking and wagging her tail. In her excitement, she even lost bladder control. It reminded me again of Ariel. Especially when we had to take my dog to the vet.
Coming towards us was a red headed woman. My estimation put her in her early twenties and at five six. I later found out she was 26 and five foot seven inches. Anyway, the woman was wearing jogging pants, running shoes, and a collegiate t-shirt. She barely had time to say hi before Peanut clamored for attention.
"Thank you for taking care of her, I cant believe I left the fence open," The young woman said. "Im Merry St. James."
""Stel McCormick," I shook her hand, feeling somewhat uncharitable. I felt like I was sending a sweet, loving dog back with an idiot. Some of that must have shown on my face because Merry soon explained.
"Im a graduate student, and after being up for over 48 hours I crashed yesterday afternoon. I guess I was so tired I forgot to close the gate. I just fed her and left the back door open." She reached down to pet Peanut. "Poor thing must have wandered out and couldnt find her way back. Thank you for taking care of her."
"It wasnt a problem. Matter of fact, she looks exactly like Ariel, a basset hound I used to have."
"No, not after the mermaid. My brother Oliver was a big fan of this old cartoon show and we already had one named after the lead male character," I shrugged. She laughed.
"Yep, thats how she got named Peanut. My baby brother was 6 when I got her. That peanut sitting on a railroad track song was his favorite," I laughed with her. I remembered that song well from my time in kindergarten, and then from when my younger brothers and sister were in kindergarten.
We talked for several minutes. I introduced her to Samson. She of course had to ask about his name. I told her about how he was my consolation prize after my ex girlfriend and I broke up. She took half of my music collection, and I got the dog. It was a more than fair exchange in my opinion. I also told her about how he got his name. I had always like the story of Samson, and the little puppys long red fur reminded me of the story the first time I saw him. Course, I had always believed that Samson and Delilah were more than the "good friends" my Southern Baptist Sunday school teacher used to claim.
"So there you have it,"
"Yep. I dont blame you for keeping the dog. Hes beautiful," She scratched his ears. "Course, Ive always said that pets come before lovers."
"I agree. And dogs are a great way to judge character. He didnt like my last girlfriend at all. She didnt like the fact that I always took his side," I grinned. He wouldnt even let her on the bed some nights. I should have paid more attention. Samson was right about her. Guess thats why I moved north.
We were saying our goodbyes. Well, I was saying goodbye mostly to Peanut, something I had never gotten the chance to do to Ariel, when I got quite a shock. Merry took off her sunglass to reveal one light blue eye and one light green one. It was the most unusual thing I had ever seen. It was actually pretty damn awesome. Regardless, I knew I wouldnt see either of them again. So naturally, I started to file this encounter away as one of those brief interludes you sometimes get in life.
Samson and I walked back home. I answered several more queries for information and sent off an update to my partner. She of course lived back on the Coast. It was one more benefit of operating a website that we did not have to live all that close to one another.
Several days passed and I had almost forgotten about my encounter with Peanut and Merry when Samson and I ran into them again. This time we were both walking our dogs at the same time in the park. Being relatively new to the area, I had only lived in town for six months; I took her up on her offer to walk around the park with her.
"Arent you hot?" I asked. It was mild this summer, but being a transplanted Southerner, eighty-degree weather was like spring to me.
"Nope, its a lot warmer where I come from," She told me. "I grew up in Mobile Alabama."
"Really? Im from the Mississippi Gulf Coast," It was a nice revelation. I had been getting homesick for manners, accents, and seasoned food.
"Wow, we could have shopped at the same mall and never have known it."
"Really, I spent a lot of time in Mobile in high school. We werent allowed to go to New Orleans, so when we couldnt sneak over there, we hung out in Mobile."
We walked the length of the park twice, just chatting away, before other responsibilities took us to our respective houses. As I walked Samson back to my little house, I felt thankful to Peanut. At least now it seemed that I had one friend up here.
Over the course of the following month, Merry and I ran into one another everywhere. We finally gave into fate and began meeting at the park on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings. Samson and Peanut got along surprisingly well, as did Merry and I. We did a lot of walking and talking during that month.
I soon learned that she was working on her doctorate in Anthropology, following her English professor fathers footsteps; she wanted to be a college professor. I told her about my web business. She was intrigued that I was making money on the internet when all the other dotcoms were declaring bankruptcy.
I explained to her how my web site worked. That Jane and I basically searched the internet for a small fee for those that did not have time anymore, but wanted research done on a subject. We provided something as small as the website the information was contained on, or for a higher price we could and often would sum up the research for our clients and provide them with detailed answers and links to their questions. After a year, I was making enough at it that I could quit my other job and still survive. She was duly impressed.
It was after one of our Friday night walks when Merry, which I had just learned was short for Merriadoc (her father was a big Tolkien fan) invited me out to a club. Not having anything else to do, I agreed.
We went to the towns only gay club. Several people called out hellos to Merry, and I clued in that she was a regular. I had known that she was gay too, but didnt even begin to think about trying to date her. We were still developing a nice, easy friendship and I was recovering from my last relationship. Merry had already stated that she was recovering from one as well.
The club was nice, small and a bit crowded, but it was clean and seemed well taken care of. I was introduced to several people. It took me a couple of introductions over a few weeks to remember them all. Merry kicked my butt at pool, and we had a few beers and compared taste in women. It was a nice evening.
All of this went on for at least four more months. Our friendship kept blossoming. Something else was as well. Over the course of our friendship, and Im not sure when it exactly happened, I fell in love with Merry. It was easy, gentle, all consuming and for once in my life, passionate. Being the dense Southern with manners type, naturally I vowed to keep it to myself. Unbeknownst to me, Merry had vowed the same thing. If it hadnt been for Peanut, neither of us might have acknowledged it.
I know, now you are wondering what a dog had to do with forcing us to admit our feelings for one another. Well, I am about to tell you.
One night I was over at Merrys house to watch a movie. We were both sitting on the couch like usual. However, instead of Peanut sitting between us, the little matchmaker sat on Merrys other side. Since I was on the end, this pushed us closer. Peanut kept shifting, and before we knew it, Merry was practically in my lap. Looking into those eyes, which were made the same color thanks to contacts, I took my chances.
Our first kiss was as wonderful as everything I had ever heard they could be. I will spare you the details, not out of spite, only because I cannot adequately put the feeling into words. It was a breathtaking, life affirming experience. Only after we had kissed one another senseless did Peanut get off the couch and lay by the door. I swear that dog was smiling.
Again, we took it slow. It was at least another two weeks before I learned that Merry was not a natural red head. She was originally a blonde, but dyed it out of curiosity and a need for change after her last relationship. Upon learning that, I had to confess my last big secret. My name, Estella. She thought it was ironic that we were both named after characters written by English writers. She said her dad would approve based on that alone.
It seemed as if we had more in common. Both of our parents were supportive of our lifestyles. We came from big Southern families, neither of us were the oldest child, and both of us attempted to keep in contact with our families. The one difference was that her parents had divorced. Her baby brother was actually her half brother, but she didnt acknowledge that. He was her brother in name and blood. It was something else I admired about her.
Its been ten years since I found Peanut wandering around Jones Park that night. Merry and I buried her yesterday. Our little girl was understandably quite upset. Even Samson seems to be in mourning. Tomorrow we are planning on looking for another dog. It did not take us long to decide on another basset hound. Maybe well get lucky. But dogs like Peanut only come along once in a lifetime.